Step into the world of Chinese dance with Joyance Arts Centre
For months, dancers at Joyance Arts Centre (JAC) have been busy practising for their show, Journey Through Dance VI.
To be held at Our Tampines Hub on Nov 18, it puts the spotlight on various types of Chinese dance – from elegant qipao performances to dances involving fans and stools as props. There’s even Dun Huang dance, in which dancers are seated in two rows while they perform.
“We have a lot of different dance items (to showcase),” dancer Joey Lee told TNP.
The 21-year-old NUS student and her fellow dancer, nine-year-old Lin Ru Xin, are excited to disprove stereotypes that Chinese dance is “old and boring”. In fact, the students at JAC are largely made up of youngsters, some as young as three.
“There are definitely more popular genres but I think it’s wrong how society views Chinese dance as being very traditional. It is actually quite modern,” Miss Lee said.
“It’s because of the public’s lack of exposure to Chinese dance.”
Like Miss Lee, Ru Xin has tried K-pop dances and ballet, but is determined to stick with Chinese dance because of its beauty and variety. “If you don’t like one type of dance, there are still many others to choose from,” she said.
The little girl’s journey into dance was inspired by her grandma, Madam Cheong Siew Lian, 67, who has been a student at JAC for seven years.
“I was 2½ years old when I first joined. When I was little, I really loved to dance,” said the Primary 3 student from Tao Nan School.
“When my grandma joined the group, she recommended it to my mum. So, we’ve been dancing till now.”
Miss Lee said her love for dance made her turn to online classes, where she stumbled upon the talented Madam Ong Wanmei, 61, their current dance maestro.
“I first came across Chinese dance as a CCA in primary school. From there, my passion grew. I started taking classes online, then came across Madam Ong,” she said.
“I’ve been following her since I was seven.”
Both dancers see a future filled with JAC performances.
“I’ve made a lot of friends through my dancing journey and I don’t want to leave them behind,” Ru Xin said. “We’ve been growing up together since we see each other every weekend.”
Miss Lee said: “I think it’s quite a fun hobby. But since I’m busy with school, I’ll probably just spend one Saturday every week to dance.
“It’s the only time I can take my mind off other responsibilities.”
Balancing school and dance is no easy feat, but thankfully, Madam Ong is an understanding teacher.
Said Ru Xin: “Madam Ong lets us off classes because she thinks school work should be our first priority.”
Miss Lee agreed, saying: “My sister is also in JAC and we’re both in NUS. We can get really stressed out by our studies. So sometimes we’ll ask Madam Ong if we can take some time off or leave slightly earlier.”
@tnpdigital Student Joey Lee spills the tea on Joyance Arts Centre's dance prep as they get ready to perform on Nov 18 at Our Tampines Hub, while nine-year-old Lin Ru Xin teases her moves! 🕺✨ Find out more on tnp.sg. 💃 #fyp #sgnews #chinesedance #dance #ourtampineshub ♬ original sound - TNP
When asked if they were afraid of Madam Ong, Ru Xin joked that she “didn’t find Madam Ong scary since she first joined”.
“I think as a kid, you definitely find the teacher scary but when you get older, it just feels like you’re being guided by a friend,” Miss Lee said.
As for what Madam Ong thought of them, she said: “Joey and Ru Xin have been learning dance from me since they were little kids. Apart from teaching them dance, I try to build their character too.
“They are well-disciplined dancers that show respect to the people around them. They also take care of others.“